Chicago (CNN) - With his star continuing to rise and a new autobiography hitting bookstores soon, Marco Rubio will venture to a key presidential primary state later this spring to help raise money for Republican activists.
Rubio, the junior senator from Florida, will be the keynote speaker at the South Carolina Republican Party's annual Silver Elephant Banquet on May 19 in Columbia, CNN has learned.
- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
- Follow Peter Hamby on Twitter: @PeterHambyCNN
The South Carolina visit will mark Rubio's first appearance in an important presidential proving ground - aside from his native Florida - since he won his U.S. Senate seat in 2010.
The Silver Elephant Banquet is the state party's biggest fundraiser of the year and should offer Rubio a chance to generate some early goodwill among the Palmetto State's most wired conservative activists if he does decide to seek a White House run at some point in the future.
It won't be his first trip to the state: Rubio made a fundraising tour of South Carolina in 2010 alongside Sen. Jim DeMint, an early supporter of his Senate bid.
While no Rubio adviser would publicly admit that the May trip has anything to with his national political aspirations, several presidential hopefuls, including Ronald Reagan and John McCain, headlined the dinner before launching White House bids.
With his compelling life story, Cuban heritage and unabashed conservatism, Rubio is currently topping vice presidential short-lists even though he and his aides have forcefully pushed back against the suggestion that he will be this year's GOP running mate.
If President Barack Obama wins re-election in November, however, the calls for him to run for president in 2016 will be difficult to ignore.